By Ian Walker

Keywords Studios' shares rose in early trade after the company said that it is in talks with European private equity company EQT Group over a potential 2.03 billion pound ($2.58 billion) takeover, which would make it the latest in a series of companies to leave the London Exchange if the deal goes ahead.

Shares at 0739 GMT were up 904.0 pence, or 62%, at 2,374.00 pence, marking their best ever rise since the company floated on the London Stock Exchange in June 2013 at 123 pence.

The London-listed videogame services company said Monday that it is in advanced talks over a possible cash offer worth 2,550 pence a share, a price it would be prepared to recommend to shareholders if a formal offer was made.

The price is a 73% premium to Keywords' closing price of 1,470 pence on Friday.

The company said that shareholders would be able to keep the final dividend of 1.76 pence that was declared on March 31 and payable June 28.

Keywords said that the board has received four unsolicited proposals from EQT in recent months which it rejected. The latest proposal is subject to a number of conditions being met including due diligence, it added.

Keywords said that it remains confident in the company's growth strategy both organically and through acquisitions, and that EQT is supportive of this strategy.

EQT has until June 15 to make a formal takeover for Keywords or walk away under U.K. Takeover Panel rules.

EQT has been investing in the U.K. for nearly two decades and last June bought veterinary pharmaceuticals company Dechra for nearly $5.6 billion, Europe's biggest leveraged buyout at the time.

Last week Royal Mail owner International Distribution Services said that it had received an improved GBP3.5 billion takeover proposal from Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky's EP Corporate Group that it would be prepared to recommend to shareholders if a formal offer was made.

If the takeovers go ahead then the companies would delist from the London Stock Exchange, marking further woes for the city bourse following a string of recent defections.

Irish building-materials supplier CRH, which was listed on London's FTSE 100 index, moved its main listing to New York in September. Flutter Entertainment--which houses FanDuel, PokerStars, and Paddy Power among its brands--started trading in New York on Jan. 29 and will make that its prime listing from May 31, while German travel company TUI AG shareholders approved the company's London delisting plan in February.

British chip maker Arm Holdings chose New York over London for its stock market return and most recently Indivior said that it planned to switch its main listing to the U.S, while retaining a secondary listing in the U.K.

Write to Ian Walker at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

05-20-24 0356ET